Originally created 05/22/01

Ford loss will affect tire plant



Bridgestone/Firestone South Carolina could lose 34 percent of its business because of the tiremaker's decision to end its long-standing relationship with Ford Motor Co.

Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. said Monday that ending the century-long partnership will result in a 5 percent impact corporate-wide because each plant's contracts vary.

The companies' relationship became strained after last year's recall of millions of Firestone tires linked to at least 174 U.S. traffic deaths.

The Graniteville tire plant produces roughly 21,000 tires a day, with 7,000 supplied to Ford, according to published reports.

The plant makes tires for Ford's Explorer, Taurus and F150 pickup and the Mercury Sable. The plant will continue producing the tires until its contract with Ford expires.

Plant spokeswoman Mary McLaughlin said Monday she was uncertain how the decision will impact the plant. No layoffs were announced.

"We really don't have enough information, but I don't know that anyone here is terribly concerned about it at this point. The one thing I don't know about is how long that contract goes with Ford," Ms. McLaughlin said.

Calls to the tiremaker's domestic headquarters in Nashville were not returned Monday.

The plant has a $50 million payroll and also makes tires for General Motors, Toyota and Isuzu.

Ms. McLaughlin expressed confidence that the four-year-old Graniteville plant would be able to replace any lost business.

"We have had a tremendous number of visitors at our plant interested in having tires produced here. We're confident in our ability to produce tires at our current rate."